Saturday, December 03, 2016

Peace and Social Justice Center's Annual Dinner—Maxine Phillips on immigration under Trump and the growth of DSA

By SJ Otto
How will President Elect Donald Trump affect the issues of immigration and how will we (activists) react to him—these questions that were raised by Maxine Phillips, former editor of Dissent Magazine, former Executive Director of Democratic Socialist of America (DSA), and volunteer editor of Democratic Left, at the Peace and Social Justice Center's Annual Dinner, Friday Night, in Wichita, KS. Phillips also writes a blog, Religious Socialism. Phillips was the main speaker that night.
At least 60 people were present at this year's Annual Dinner. There were so many people trying to attend the event that some had to be turned down for the dinner part. They just didn't have enough room or food.
"We are doing better in Kansas than Nation wide," said Janice Bradley, Peace and Social Justice Center board member. "That is especially with the Bernie campaign."
She pointed out that in Kansas Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary by a comfortable margin.
Then Phillips spoke. She said; "The promise of:  

'Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,'[1]

expired long ago, but the dream lives on."
Much of her talk focused on the various problems of immigrants and a history of the problems they faced in the past.
"Some of us were brought here against our will, through slavery," she said. "Other's came here escaping war or repression."
She pointed out that many early American people of European decent wanted to keep out other Europeans.
"Ben Franklin said 'Why would we want Germans here," Phillips pointed out.
She added there were those who described the Irish as wild and turbulent. There was a backlash against the Irish in the Gilded Age.
Phillips also spoke of modern acts that have caused fear among immigrants such as the US Congress passing the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) or INS Special Registration, shortly after September 11, 2001. The act required of males over the age of sixteen who entered the United States legally on particular types of visa (primarily student, work, and tourist) from certain countries to resister, so the government could track potential terrorists. Some people had so much trouble with this act they had to leave and went to Canada. They found they couldn't even come back for a visit.
"Obama took 25 countries off that list," Phillips said. "But the law is still there. I thought of a thousand children and adults who had to fear that law."
She pointed out that Trump could easily put that law back into action. Phillips also speculated as to the affects of our new President Trump on our national politics.
"Today the ruling party controls all branches of government, president, congress and soon the Supreme Court," she added.
She talked about bigots across the country suddenly feeling empowered. She said that bigotry is being globalized as fascists and Trump-like-minded people are being elected all over Europe.
" First thing is to say "no" to normalizing this hatred and false hoods," Phillips insisted.
Phillips also talked about here activities in DSA.
"All of us are involved in some kind of struggle," she told the audience. "We are at a turning point.  There is the Standing Rock encampment, Black Lives Matter and the issue of fracking and earthquakes here in Kansas."
She also said 3,000 people have joined DSA since the Bernie Sanders campaign.
"Sanders normalized the label "socialist," Phillips said.
She also discussed the issue of "sanctuary cities" that are trying to aid and defend immigrants from being mistreated or sent back where they came from for frivolous reasons. She warned that President Trump may not recognize those sanctuary designations and he may just ignore them.
Phillips was eagerly received by the audience and there were many worthwhile questions asked after her speech.
She closed with the quote; "when change comes- where are we- where will you be."

 Maxine Phillips also took part in a DSA workshop on Saturday.

[1] Statue of Liberty National Monument
Emma Lazarus’ Famous Poem.

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